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Why we're getting behind #Goatober

03 October 2016

Why we're getting behind #Goatober

For many farmers in northern Ethiopia, goats can be a lifeline. Well-adapted to the dry, dusty soils, they can thrive even in these harsh, infertile landscapes.

Farm Africa works in Tigray, Ethiopia to support women, and especially widows, who don’t own any farmland and often struggle to make ends meet. It’s a difficult environment for farmers, and as Ethiopia is still reeling from one of the worst droughts in 50 years, there is even more pressure on Tigray’s scant resources.

For Abrahet, a farmer living in Tigray, the gift of goats and the training to keep them has made a huge difference. With three healthy goats producing milk and kids that she can sell, she’s been able to feed her family, buy medication for her children and pay for their school costs. And once her goats breed, Abrahet then passes on three kids to another women in her farming group, so that the benefits can spread throughout the whole community.

That’s part of the reason why we’ve teamed up with goat meat supplier Cabrito for this year’s Restaurant Show. Farm Africa and Cabrito share a commitment to sustainable farming, and know first-hand that goats, as they provide both meat and milk, can be a vital resource for farmers.

Cabrito was founded by James Whetlor, with the intention of reducing waste in the dairy industry. With goats usually just used for their milk in the UK, thousands of billy goats are euthanised each year. And having worked as a chef in Michelin-starred restaurants, James is perfectly placed to get goat onto British menus.

This month, James is promoting the UK’s very first #Goatober, a month-long celebration of goat meat. Leading UK restaurants are committing to putting a goat dish on their menus, with the aim of winning over the hearts and stomachs of diners around the country. James told us a bit about why he’s promoting #Goatober:

“The more you think about it, the stranger it is that we don’t eat goat in this country. We don’t eat goat while the rest of the world thrives on it.

“We’re trying to solve a problem in the UK food chain by highlighting waste and finding ways to make it more sustainable. It seems distasteful to throw things away when farmers in Africa have so little.

“Goatober is a silly name, a great idea and a fun way to engage people. It’s an effort to get everyone in the fledgling goat meat industry together to talk about goat and really get it onto menus.”

Several very high profile restaurants have signed up to be a part of #Goatober, from the Jugged Hare to River Cottage. And at this year’s Restaurant Show on 4 October, James will unveil a new Africa-inspired recipe while also talking about how Farm Africa’s work with goats is transforming lives in Ethiopia.

Good food can break down barriers – as we start to enjoy goat meat in the UK, we share an experience with families like Abrahet’s in Ethiopia, who depend on goat meat for an affordable and delicious source of protein. And as #Goatober becomes an annual event, Farm Africa is proud to showcase our work helping farmers across rural eastern Africa to make a sustainable living from their goats.

Find out more about our work with goats in Tigray, Ethiopia